Trump speaks with Egyptian president on church bombings

Apr 14, 2017, 10:47
Trump speaks with Egyptian president on church bombings

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi announced a three-month state of emergency on Sunday.

Another suicide attack killed at least 28 people inside St George's Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

General view of the coffins of victims of Sunday's church attack in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.

A second explosion - which Egypt's Interior Ministry says was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm St. Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria - left at least 17 dead, and 48 injured.

The Islamic State group said it was behind the twin bombings that targeted Palm Sunday services at churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, and threatened further attacks against Egypt's Christian minority. "The state of emergency shall be declared for a specified period not exceeding three months, which may only be extended for another similar period after obtaining the approval of two-thirds of the House members", the article stipulates.

"The armed forces and police forces will do what is necessary to confront the threats of terrorism and its financing in order to maintain security across the country, protect public and private property and the lives of citizens", a cabinet statement said.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed both bombings. "We know this is a big sacrifice but we are capable of facing it", the Egyptian President said.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis expressed sorrow over the latest attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt. Another massive bombing in 2016 killed at least 25 people inside a Cairo church during Sunday mass.

Reflecting on the message of Easter, Bishop Angaelos said: "As we continue into the Holy Week of our Saviour, we share in the pain and heartbreak of their families and of all those affected by today's incidents".

The blasts have come ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Egypt on April 28-29, and prompted worldwide condemnation.

Egypt's Christian minority, which makes up roughly 10 percent of the population, has increasingly been targeted by Islamist extremists.

The security forces have been put on alert in anticipation of more attacks, the Egyptian media reported.

Pope Francis, who is due to visit Cairo, offered prayers for the victims.

Copts in Egypt have faced persecution and discrimination that has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.